Educational workers in Ontario were set to strike on Friday November 4, 2022. Premier Doug Ford not only passed legislation that makes the strike illegal but used the “notwithstanding clause” in the Constitution to prevent legal challenges to such legislation for five years. This measure has indeed galvanized the workers’ movement, to a certain extent.
John Clarke, a radical social democrat here in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, has this to say about the recent strike wave of educational workers (from Facebook):
At this moment in Ontario, tens of thousands of education workers are defying the government and fighting back. Much greater numbers of working class people are looking to this with hope and drawing strength from it.
Yet, I’m utterly astounded by how many comments I see on Facebook and Twitter, coming from those with generally left perspectives, that hammer out the refrain that people sat at home and let the Tories get elected, so they deserve everything they get. A couple of points need to be made about this.Firstly, don’t overestimate the difference that would have been made by an alternative electoral outcome. Certainly, the Ford Tories are the most clear cut representatives of the present regressive agenda but the fundamental thrust of the attack would be playing out had there been a different result at the ballot box. Bluntly, if you conclude that electing social democratic politicians means a just society without the need to fight for it, you haven’t been paying much attention to what’s been happening in the world.
Secondly, and more importantly, in thousands of ways, this society works to prevent working class people drawing the conclusion that they can act together in their own interests and win. Indeed, we are living in a period when such an understanding has been rendered especially difficult to draw. Yet, we find ourselves at this moment and a powerful struggle is underway. We should be thinking about how we can take it forward and draw into it other workers and communities that are under such sharp attack.
A moment of possibility for mass action and a major victory on this scale hasn’t existed in this province for more than twenty years. The class struggle is such an explosive force precisely because it involves sudden leaps in thought, when masses of people who saw no way forward come to life and act together. This could be such a time and the issue is to do all we can to ensure that it is as powerful and effective as it possibly can be.